Manmeet Singh couldn’t tolerate being rejected by his wife, so he killed her.
The 28-year-old Surrey man, who attacked his wife with a hatchet during a brazen and brutal daylight slaying in Surrey two years ago, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder on Monday (June 10).
Singh murdered 24-year-old Ravinder Kaur Bhangu on July 28, 2011. The court heard that just before noon, Singh walked into the Sash Di Awaaz Newspaper office, where Bhangu worked, with three weapons: two knives and a hatchet.
He approached Bhangu and struck her in the head at least twice with the hatchet, cracking her skull. He then stabbed her repeatedly in her torso and limbs, causing injuries to multiple internal organs as well as her carotid artery in her neck.
Singh told the five other staff members at the newspaper office that Bhangu had been unfaithful to him. He said someone should call 911, telling the operator “I killed my wife,” and stood beside Bhangu’s body with a knife until police arrived.
Singh was originally charged with first-degree murder and two assault charges related to injuries suffered by one of two men who attempted to intervene in the deadly attack. He pleaded guilty to the single, lesser charge in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster.
Singh, clean cut and dressed in a dark suit and tie, listened to a court interpreter who translated the proceedings from English to Punjabi. He appeared calm throughout, looking a couple of times at the people sitting in the courtroom’s public viewing gallery.
Many family members and supporters were present, including his father, a former police officer in India (left).
Singh and Bhangu met in college in India in 2002 and married in 2008 before coming to Canada together a year later. They lived with Singh’s family in Newton. However, in the spring of 2011, Bhangu left Singh and moved in with a family friend.
Singh couldn’t cope with the rejection or the separation, the court heard. He was distraught and according to a psychiatric report, suffered moderate depression.
“His wife was his world,” said defence lawyer Brij Mohan. “Everything revolved around her.”
Mohan also said Singh was the product of growing up in a “misogynist culture” where women are often thought of by their husbands as property.
“Nothing can justify his actions,” said Mohan, but added it would be unfair not to mention the attitudes Singh was brought up with.
Singh did not apologize in court himself, but had Mohan convey his remorse.
A victim impact statement written by Bhangu’s brother on behalf of her parents in India said they not only lost their daughter, but their peace of mind the day she was killed.
“Today, our life is devoid of the charm it once had,” it read. “We miss our daughter with every breath we inhale.”
They said her death “raised doubts” about the safety of hundreds of thousands of Indian girls and that they prayed for the safety of “our daughters on foreign shores.”
Outside court, a family friend said Bhangu’s family was suffering in India.
“They’re in bad shape,” said Narinder Singh Bhullar.
Second-degree murder comes with an automatic life sentence. In an agreed statement, both the defense and Crown lawyers asked that Singh, who has no prior criminal record, not be eligible for parole for 16 years. His parole eligibility will be decided June 21.
Because Singh is not a Canadian citizen, if and when he is granted full parole, he could be deported.